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Acharya Vamsa Vruksham - 11 (December 15, 2009)

Lineage Tree of Preceptors
Anbil Ramaswamy, U.S.A.

16. Sri Vedantha Desika (Purattaasi-Thiruvonam) Part - II

The Avathara:

Twelve years after the ‘bell’ incident, the Ghanta of the Lord was born as Ghantaavathara Aazhwar. The Avathara of Thooppul Kulamani was in the Kali Yuga year 4370 which corresponds to 1268 AD in the Vibhava year, month Purattaasi, on the Dasami day of Sukla Paksha, a Wednesday, in the constellation of Sravanam (the same as that of the Lord of Thirumalai). He was born in Thooppul, Thiru-Thanka (Himavanam) adjacent to the temple of Deepa Prakaasa, near Kanchi.

Naamakaranam and Lord Varadaraja’s blessings:

As he was born during the Theerthothsava of Tiruvenkatamudaiyan, Appullaar, his uncle named him ‘Venkatanatha’. After Abdapoorthi (the first birthday) he took the child to ‘Per Arulalan temple’ at Kanchi. The Lord blessed the child to become the ‘beacon light’ of Srivaishnava Darsanam like Ramanuja.

Swami Desika himself mentions this in his ‘Amrutha Ranjanai’ thus: ‘அன்றே அடைக்கலம் கொண்ட நம் அத்திகிரித் திருமால்’. The child had his Choulam (tuft initiation) in the third year and Aksharaabhyaasam in the fifth year.

His encounter with Nadaadhur Ammal:

One day, Appullaar took the boy, who was then hardly five years of age, with him to the Eastern Praakaaram of Lord Varadaraja temple to attend the Sri Bhashya Kalakshepam of Nadaadhur Ammal. Ammal was so impressed with the captivating brilliance of the kid that he stopped the discourse to exchange pleasantries.

Later, when he tried to resume the discourse, Ammal was fumbling as to the context where he had left off. Our Thooppul Pillai reminded him of the same. Ammal was overwhelmed and took the boy on his lap, hugged him and blessed him saying:

ப்ரதிஷ்டாபித வேதாந்த: ப்ரதிக்ஷிப்த பஹிர் மத: !
பூயா: த்ரைவித்யமாந்யஸ்த்வம் பூரி கல்யாண பாஜநம் !!

“You will establish Vedantha on a firm footing demolishing the misrepresentations of other faiths”.

Even today, one can see the painting of the scene of Ammal blessing the boy on the ceiling in front of the Kachchi Vaithaan Mantapam in the temple of Lord Varadaraja. He bade Appullaar to initiate the boy in all the Saasthras and other esoteric doctrines.


Duly performing the Upanayanam at Garbaashtamam (i.e.: at the age of 7), Appullaar initiated the boy into Veda Adhyayanam, Saamaanya Saasthras, Sri Bhashya and other scriptures. He was surprised to notice that the boy was precociously so smart as to grasp all that he was taught almost instantly.

By age 20, Desika became an unparalleled Vidwaan so much that the elders wondered whether he was the combined reincarnation of Azhwan, Naathamuni, Aala Vandhaar, Udaiyavar, Pillaan, Aachaan and other exponents of our Darsanam who seemed to have entered his soul. Swami himself says in Sankalpa Suryodaya: “விம்சதி அப்தே நாநாவித வித்யா:”


Appullaar got the lad married at the age of 21 to a beautiful maiden called Thirumangai (a) Kanakavalli. He initiated Desika into the Garuda Manthra. Desika was carrying out his daily chores with Anushtaanam appropriate to his stage of life as a householder, what with Oupaasana, Panchakaala Prakriya, etc. He lived by ‘Uncha Vruththi’ (begging for grains) true to the norms prescribed for a Srivaishnava Gruhastha.

By age 27, he had already become an Acharya delivering discourses on Granthas and Manthras to his disciples. He is reputed to have delivered discourses on Sri Bhashya for over 30 times in his lifetime.

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Next in series: On January 15, 2010.

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The author is President, Swami Desika Darsana Satsangam (SDDS) and Editor,
Sri Ranga Sri (SRS) Electronic Journal, U.S.A.

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www.svdd.com - © Sri Vedantha Desikar Devasthanam, Mylapore, Chennai.